If you have missed it, you might, the Republic of Niger isn’t the one that strikes the news. But during last week on the 13th April of 2018, Minister of Defence Djida Hamadou wrote a letter where he wanted to control the social media. This being Facebook, Twitter or Whatsapp, the Ministry of Defence didn’t know how to even to write Twitter, they called it Tweeter. Clearly, they are twats, who doesn’t understand freedom of speech. Not that the Republic of Niger is famous for that either.
Mahamadou Issoufou, the President who has been in-charge since 7th April 2011, now his comrades in other ministries want to directly control the actions online. The Ministry of Defence wants to use the Forces de Défense et de sécurité (FDS) to monitor and control the Social Media. That only means that the army can follow whatever the citizens does online. Something that doesn’t sound like a good idea, unless President Issoufou planning to cease the civil society and the spreading of information within the Republic.
The same government has voted in for the Conseil Supérieur de la Communication (CSC) would get a new mandate and a new organizational structure. Therefore, the government are really working to control and settle content online. This is yet another country, where they are taking the war against democracy online. They are afraid of people speaking and writing what they feel on the internet. We know that, because there isn’t anything positive happening with the Ministry of Defence and the Army monitoring the Social Media.
This isn’t a positive sign, its a sign of that the government are not opening up, but closing even more. That the military and militarism is more important, than ever. We know that the state has issues with freedom of expression, as of today, Ali Idrissa have been detained for 24 days now for his campaign against corruption and nepotism. Clearly, the Military want to silence this voices in the public sphere.
We know that the Republic has issues with this, as they sent the Military to the University of Niamey in the Capital also. Therefore, this regime cannot stomach people writing against them. Issoufou and his henchmen cannot manage critics. They want people to give praise and shower honors. Not question their actions and transparency. That cannot be good, since they want the Military to Monitor Social Media. Just think about how far of a breach of privacy and also freedom of speech that is. That the FDS should be allowed to monitor and follow the public online.
Issoufou, is this the state of mind your in? That soldiers and Generals are monitoring their own citizens and their actions online, what they say and think on the Social Media; Is that so dangerous for them to speak their mind? Why are you so afraid of the Social Media? Do you think it would inspire people to revolution topple your regime and your army? Is that why?
Why do you want to use the army to monitor the Social Media? It is insane, should the same army monitor the talk at the yard, the market and in the schools too? Are they monitoring all communications and taping all conversations on the telephones as well?
Because, I have doubt you care about freedom of speech, expressions of digital content, when you are working on having the army as a overlooker of the Social Media. Peace.
After Zimbabwe, people have started to blaze the horns and expecting other dictators to fall. Well, I am humbly saying, I hope so, but don’t expect so. Unless, there are vital changes, unless they lose their support and their weapons behind them. If the support and armies are not behind them, than the Robert Mugabe story can be repeated elsewhere. But it will be different from state to state, from president to president. As each President has built around a stronger or weaker system of orders, strength of institutions and also personal cult around themselves. We also know they are using their myths and their state media to serve their interests.
President’s that I will honor with a mention are Joseph Kabila, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Pierre Nkurunziza, Faure Gnassingbe, Hailemariam Desalegn, Isias Afwerki, Omar Al-Bashir, Idriss Deby, Paul Biya, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasango, Mahamadou Issoufou, Paul Kagame and Ismaïl Omar Guelleh. These are a list of honorable mentions, there several more that could be put on a list, but these was the first to mention, if feel someone is left behind. Please leave that in the comments down below(I know that sounds like a Youtuber, but I had to take inspiration from somewhere).
All of these men in their republics knows that they use power and security organizations to quell, silence and oppress their opposition. They are keeping control of the state reserves and has their party as filled of loyalists and cronies. All of this states are militarized, there is state controlled media and has various of different rules. They are strict and controlling from the state houses and the freedom in these states are limited. The state and business are usually connected with the President and his family. If not there are cronies who also have business and fortunes. So the dictators are for the moment having control and making sure the people is not uprising.
What we can know is that if these dictators take it to far and the fear for the repercussion from the state. So as long as the public and opposition are detained for arbitrary arrests and citizens hurt after demonstrations. While the state reserves and donor funds are eaten by the elite, while the countries are kept poor. As long as the republic’s are poor, than they still need more foreign donors and supply. So it is good for the dictators to keep their nations poor, as the Western and Multi-National Organization can continue to supply them with non-binding funds. That they are free to use on military and one themselves, instead of building institutions and good governance, it is all controlled by the one man on top and his loyal subjects around.
This is well known and for different reasons, these men should always worry about their decisions and their capacity to rule. Nothing last for ever. There will be some who might want to take their place and replace them. Someone will always be opposition and fight for democratic values, but sooner or later they will succeed. It is just a matter of how and how long it takes.
They are all based on strong military control, even minor specialized groups who are like Presidential Guards/Republican Guards or Special Forces. These are controlled usually by either relations or trusted generals, who are loyal not to turn against the President. The Presidents promotes and demotes leaders inside their armies often, the same in the police force/service to compensate and also to make sure the old guard of warrior and soldiers who fought for the President. Will not be seen as a threat or have power to ever topple him. That is why they are trying to distance themselves from the ones who brought them to power, because they will know their inner-tactics; that is why the stalwarts and historicals are more public personas, but not people of power. Even if they did have so in past.
That is done to secure the role and secure the commander-in-chief, even the President always need the historical battles and origin story to keep himself relevant and prove his place. He don’t needs ones who fought with him and his cause. They will just ask for checks- and balances on the promises made in liberation and in the battles against previous oppressors. That is why they are not entangled with these, unless they give them phony medals and grant money, to hopefully silence them.
Still, with all the protocol and strength of the army, they are still vulnerable as they know this too. That why they are calculating and trying to find out the next person who wants their role and their positions. Which is why there are changes in their cabinets, Vice-Presidents and Prime Ministers. Until they find persons and people they trust to not ambitions to overpower them. Also, they want to stop other MPs and other voices to install hope in the population and to create popularity that is bigger then their personal cult and their teachings.
However, there are ways to bring them down by actually not fearing the state security organizations, waiting for the President to act swiftly without feeling the tensions within his own party. Like President Robert Mugabe did recently. If not actually know you have lost all legitimacy in recent elections, but not willing to step down like Yayha Jammeh. That was ECOWAS and Senegal who intervened on behalf of the newly elected President. Which was the reason for the dictator ending in Exile recently.
Therefore, we have to hope for leaders who have capacity to capture the pulse of the people who are oppressed, of the ones who are marginalized and the ones who are captured by the state. Since the dictatorships doesn’t give up easy, unless there is no escape. History has learned us that and therefore, the lesson needs to be learned. We in our time cannot give in and accept that the liberty, freedom and government are taken by one elite and one ruler.
Certainly, it will not be easy, the fight against oppressors will cost and take time. That is proven time in and time out. The same will happen here, but with their aging and their lack of control. Their trust in family members and trying to create family dynasties. They might fall like Mugabe. Even if some are sons of former presidents. Doesn’t mean they can continue owning the title and running the state. It is proven that is not accepted and that is all within reason. This is what happen in Zimbabwe and we understand if similar events transpire elsewhere.
In the end it is all up to the public for change, the public reactions and their demonstrations, boycotts and their inner works to dismantle the oppressive dictatorship. Often the international community and international counterparts will not intervene as they wants mineral resources and other commodities for cheap; and as long one partner can be bribed, the workers and resources don’t need to paid-in-full or proper. This prospers foreign investments and multi-national companies. This is not well-spoken of, but should be revealed, as it is so often shady dealings with resources sold or land to investors from these dictators. They are funding the state and military, that together with aid are keeping these regimes afloat.
With all this in mind, we have to continue the struggle against these men that are keeping people hostage and taking away freedom and liberty, freedom to assembly and to be activists. They are licensing and authorizing businesses and if people are allowed to have parties and civil society organizations. This are all in different ways, the same with the media and other public ways of sharing information. These are often controlled like all else are in society and in the republic.
We can just wonder if we let this repeat itself, let them continue to oppress and letting these multi-national corporations earn on this forms of government. If we can accept that aid and multi-national organizations keeping budgets and keeping them as leaders, because if these leaders would struggle more economically, more loyalists and more cronies would actually deflect quicker. Also, that if the economy struggle and the security organizations are not paid-off. They could instead of turning their weapons against the public, they could turn against the government/regime. So there are many ways together with public uprising that is needed to topple these dictatorships. Peace.
The Capitol Hill report or the Congress Report Service (CRS) who are making studies into wished subjects of the Congress, has recently dropped and made a report into the United States Armed Mission in Niger. Not that it says much and it is shown to be careful with dropping intelligence, as this is a continued mission against Islamist insurgents and militants together with allies of the American government. Therefore, dropping to much intelligence and to much information would spoil the mission themselves. That is why the CRS isn’t saying much new, but shows the state of affairs and the reasoning of United States to interfere on foreign soil. They are even proving the capacity of forces and planned army base in Niger. As they are clearly now cooperating with other armies and camps, where they are based. Since they are building one in the northern town of Agadez. Take a look!
“Following the October 4 attack, DOD officials have publicly cited a larger figure of 800 U.S. military personnel in Niger. 17 These figures presumably comprise personnel stationed in the capital, Niamey, as well as those deployed in more remote areas. Notably, a U.S. Air Force facility is under construction in the northern city of Agadez (Figure 1), which the Air Force has described as supporting U.S. logistical and intelligence capacities in the sub-region, and which U.S. diplomats have described as supporting the Niger government’s capacity to secure its borders” (…) “U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) describes the U.S. military presence in Niger, as in most places in Africa, as a “light footprint,” suggesting that a more extensive and/or conventional military mission could require more extensive airlift, close air support capacity, and contingency planning” (CRS, P: 4-5, 2017).
“Advisory activities in which U.S. personnel are embedded with local security forces, as was apparently the case in the mission that came under attack on October 4, according to DOD officials” (CRS, P: 7, 2017).
“The “golden hour” is described as the first 60 minutes following trauma or the onset of acute illness, where chances of a patient’s survival are considered greatest if advanced trauma life support can be provided. DOD notes that, “historically, wound data and casualty rates indicate that more than 90 percent of all casualties die within the first hour of severe wounding without advanced trauma life support.”58 U.S. military medical support is generally structured to meet this standard of one hour or less” (…) “In the case of the October 4 Niger ambush, at least one Special Forces medic (see below) was present, but he was killed during the ambush. DOD stated the two U.S. soldiers wounded during the ambush were medically evacuated by French air assets to Niamey during the firefight, and that this medical evacuation was “consistent with the casualty evacuation plan that was in place for this particular operation” (CRS, P: 12-13, 2017).
“Niger’s Interior Minister Mohamed Bazoum stated in a media interview on October 19 that those who carried out the attack were “youths under the influence of Abu Walid al Sahrawi” who were based in the Niger/Mali border region. Possibly reflecting the extremely complex nature of militant allegiances in the sub-region, Bazoum also suggested that the assailants were loyal to Iyad ag Ghali, a Malian national who heads the Al Qaeda-aligned JNIM, although some analysts portray JNIM and IS-GS as rivals rather than allies. The Interior Minister indicated in his remarks that Niger’s government had yet to identify the precise assailants” (CRS, P: 16, 2017).
We clearly will not know everything now, but there is openings and questions to be asked. There have already been questions over how long it took to get the bodies of the fallen American soldiers from the place of fire. Also, the aftermath of the ambush opening a lot of questions.
That we will know more with time and hope this get investigated, as there are many leads and many more questions arising, as the Department of Defense should have own intelligence on the ambush and the days before. Since, they are there together with the Niger’s own military and French soldiers, these are all in the Sahel region to clear militant Islamist’s there. Clearly, there are some intelligence that is left our or clearly not studied. Since the CRS report are a stripped report. There has already been reported about the ambushes and local chiefs interfering on behalf Islamist’s in the area. This has been overshadowed in this report.
That this report also not look into the failure of human intelligence, because of this Niger ambushed could have been warned against and the troubles in Tongo Tongo close to the border of Mali. Together with the ambush of motorcycles and other reports, that has been neglected. Proves that the CRS are trying to stifle information or not investigate it at all. Just going by the information of different sources in the days after, you could get more intelligence of it, than by the CRS. Therefore, the report didn’t tell much, just showing what official sources within the DoD. Peace.
Congressional Research Service – ‘Niger: Frequently Asked Questions About the October 2017 Attack on U.S. Soldiers’ (27.10.2017)
Well, there is often now, when it comes to the assistance and the help from United States Army, it is less planned, but more erratic just like their President. The Commander-in-Chief, President Donald J. Trump is behind the mess created and the death, he is the last to order and sanction the violence. If the US Army is behind a mess in Yemen, it is on his hour, if its done bad in Niger, it is still on his watch.
Just like Hillary Clinton was in a mess in Libya, this is a story of how the United States might have inflicted much harm in Niger, without intelligence and backgrounds checks. Clearly, it must have been something gone wrong, when they are ambushed happen and there are conflicting reports of it. We cannot know everything now. Since the investigations of the different security organization will start. As well, as the Trump Administration are in high gear of deflections and trying to silence the story. Because, this is damaging reports. Not only his lack of compassion to the families of the lost soldiers in battle, but also the lack of collecting intelligence before striking at the enemies during conflict.
Here is some of the key aspects we can for now take from the Niger ambush. This is not the whole story, but some pieces of the puzzle, to make sense of the manner, the Special Forces operated and the AFRICOM Battalion that is stationed in Niger. Hope this gives you some sense of it all.
“News reports indicate that the attack occurred near the town of Tongo Tongo (see Figure 1), in a border region where a number of armed groups are active. These include locally-led factions affiliated Al Qaeda and the Islamic State organization, ethnic militias, separatist rebels, drug traffickers, smugglers, and bandits, with the lines between these categories often blurred. (See CRS In Focus IF10172, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Related Groups.) Islamist armed groups regularly conduct attacks against local targets—notably focusing on government officials, prisons, schools, and individuals accused of collaborating with the state or with French-led counterterrorism operations —and against U.N. peacekeepers in Mali. Some analysts assert that the often heavy-handed counterterrorism approach of local security forces has contributed to worsening instability” (Arieff, 2017)
First Official statement:
“On Oct. 4, three (3) U.S. service members and one partner nation member were killed while the U.S. was providing advice and assistance to Nigerien security force counter-terror operations, approximately 200 km north of Niamey, in southwest Niger. Additionally, two U.S. service members were injured and evacuated in stable condition to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany” (U.S. Embassy in Niger, 2017).
Niger Ministry of Defense Statement:
“On Tuesday, October 03, 2017, a patrol of the defense and security forces and US partners operating in the Mali-Niger border zone was ambushed by terrorist elements on board a dozen vehicles and twenty motorcycles. height of Tongo Tongo village located about 80 km northwest of Ouallam. After intense fighting during which the elements of the joint patrol showed courage and an exemplary combativeness, the balance is established as follows: FDS four (4) dead, eight (8) wounded, partners American three (3) dead, two (2) wounded. In this painful circumstance, the President of the Republic, Head of State, Supreme Chief of the Armed Forces and the Government offer their deepest condolences to the families of the disappeared and wish a speedy recovery to the wounded. They welcome the commitment of the American partners alongside our defense and security forces, they reiterate their strong support and encouragement to the entire defense and security forces in their mission of defending the integrity of the national territory and strategic partners for their continued support for peace and stability in the region” (FAN, 2017).
Report in LA Times the day after:
“Officials hoped the missing U.S. Army Special Forces operative might still be hiding in the dense brush, rather than taken captive, and launched a massive search-and-rescue mission with aerial drones and other aircraft, as well as Nigerien ground forces. The death of four Green Berets in remote West Africa marks the worst single loss of U.S. forces under fire since President Trump took office. The president was briefed on the search and the discovery of the body, officials said. The casualties came as a heavy blow to the insular special operations community that increasingly shoulders the burden of America’s counter-terrorism operations overseas. The four fatalities, as well as two wounded Green Berets, were in the 3rd Special Forces Group based in Ft. Bragg, N.C” (Hennigan, 2017).
Chad Pulls out troops:
“The development comes after the US slammed a travel ban on its citizens. Chad defence officials have not given a reason for this action, but it is believed that it could weaken the fight against the insurgents. Residents say the withdrawal of the troops had already impacted on Niger’s Diffa region, which has seen a series of attacks by Boko Haram crossing over from their base in Nigeria” (NAN, 2017).
“Eventually, after talking to the village chief, the troops got into their vehicles to return to their base, a two-hour drive. But less than five minutes after they drove out of the village, the convoy was ambushed by a group that outnumbered them two to one. About 100 armed insurgents, many of whom were on motorbikes — two or three people a bike — as well as others in about 10 sport utility vehicles, surrounded the convoy. They were armed with heavy weapons, including anti aircraft weaponry as well as rocket-propelled grenades, according to a Nigerien official. Soldiers in the joint patrol were riding in military vehicles as well as civilian Land Cruisers from the American Embassy. The firefight lasted two to three hours, the Nigerien official said, until a response unit from the military base arrived for reinforcements. French helicopters arrived to evacuate the dead and wounded as well as other soldiers” (Searcey, Cooper & Schmitt, 2017).
Lack of Intelligence in West Africa:
“That very same evaluation additionally raised concern that solely 20-30 per cent of the US ISR’s intelligence, surveillance and recognition necessities have been met. UU. of the US (ISR). “This limits situational understanding, assist operations and presents no risk indications and warnings,” the command warned, including that the state of affairs is most severe in West Africa, the place the military of states United has roughly 1,000 individuals concerned in a dozen operations in a area of 9 nations. Nigerian officers have stated that the ambush on four October was on account of a “failure of human intelligence.” This useful resource hole “forces our workers to return to pricey and ineffective advert hoc options,” the command instructed lawmakers” (DrFeed, 2017)
I think these clips from different sources say a lot and shows that the neglect and the importance of collecting intelligence. As well, as knowing the intent of the locals and their loyalty towards the insurgents. Therefore, the joint-command brigade was ambushed. There will come more intelligence and more information, that will show the damaging information that is for now left out. Unless, the United States wants to hide their acts. The dead soldiers will not return, not matter what you do, but to see the causes and the reasons for their demise could be learning curve for the military and their operatives.
We cannot know everything now, but we will with time, as the investigations and the revealing intelligence will come to forward. Clearly, the White House wouldn’t touch this in the beginning, because they knew of the their misbehavior and has since tried to deflect it. Especially, since their own President has assaulted Clinton for her actions in Libya, this could be seen as similar and be alike. Therefore, the smear-campaign and questionable acts was taken to Congress in various committees, the same should appear in this case. But don’t expect it, because the Republican are still loyal to their President. However, if that turns and their show compassion and care for their Republic. They would have dozens of investigations and also look into the ambush. The reasons and the orders that was given, also why the people lost their lives in the village of Tongo Tongo close to the border of Mali, inside Niger. Peace.
Arieff, Alexis – ‘Attack on U.S. Soldiers in Niger: Context and Issues for Congress’ (05.10.2017) link:https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/IN10797.pdf
DrFeed – ‘Months Before Niger Attack, The US Military Warned Congress It Needed More Resources’ (20.10.2017) link: https://drfeed.com/months-before-niger-attack-the-us-military-warned-congress-it-needed-more-resources/
NAN – ‘Chad withdraws troops fighting Boko Haram in Niger’ (13.10.2017) link: https://www.google.no/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=16&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwi0heD73YHXAhVFEpoKHTj5CMA4ChAWCEswBQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.thecable.ng%2Fchad-withdraws-troops-fighting-boko-haram-niger&usg=AOvVaw3ux55sdZINC2y_S7jgE1zH
Hennigan, W.J. -’Missing U.S. commando found dead in Niger desert two days after deadly ambush’ (06.10.2017) link: http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-missing-soldier-found-20171006-story.html
Searcey, Dionne, Cooper, Helene & Eric Schmitt – ‘Conflicting Accounts in Niger Ambush Are Subject of Pentagon Investigation’ (20.10.2017) link: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/world/africa/niger-ambush-conflicting-accounts.html
FAN – ‘Communiqué du Ministère de la Défense Nationale du Niger suite à l’attaque des FDS à Tongo tongo’ (05.10.2017) link: http://www.iciniger.com/communique-ministere-de-defense-nationale-niger-suite-a-lattaque-fds-a-tongo-tongo/
U.S. Embassy in Niger – ‘U.S. Africa Command Statement on Situation in Niger’ (05.10.2017) link: https://ne.usembassy.gov/u-s-africa-command-statement-situation-niger/
“Niger’s opposition coalition COPA 2016 has announced it’s dropping out of the presidential run-off. The coalition’s also called on its representatives to pull out.The run-off between Hama Amadou and Incumbent President Mahamadou Issoufou was scheduled for March 20th. But the opposition is citing unfair treatment and a lack of an official announcement of the results. President Issoufou fell just short of an outright majority, whereas the opposition’s Amadou had to campaign from prison. He’s been in jail, accused of baby trafficking. The African Union election observer mission says the first round was fairly well organised, despite logistic issues and delays” (CCTV, 2016).